Organizing Efforts of Live-In Care Workers Are Pushing Unions to Broaden Focus

They appeared suddenly, had voices and faces: Polish women care workers tending elderly persons in Switzerland in what is a 24-hour job. At the 2014 May Day march in Basel, Switzerland, they took centre stage at the ‘expense’ of the established labour unions. Wearing self-made scarfs in the red and white colours of the Polish flag, they carried a large banner with the slogan “No more exploitation – We demand rights and respect!” Other banners read “A six hour salary for a 24-hour job?! Not on our watch!”And as the demonstrators reached the local parliament, Bozena Domanska, a Polish care worker, climbed on stage and started to speak about her work:

“Just like thousands of other women from eastern Europe, I know what it means to work 24 hours a day and take care of elderly persons. The work itself is not the problem. The problem is the isolation we live in as women confined to the private household of others, without contact with other people, with no life of our own, responsible day and night for persons who are ill. We live a life dictated by the rhythm of others, from eating times and the kind of TV programmes we watch all the way to sleepless nights.”

– truth-out

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